One of the stages of a matrimonial finance (financial remedy) application is the ‘FDR’ – the Financial Dispute Resolution hearing – at which a judge offers his or her ‘early neutral evaluation’ of the likely outcome of the application.
Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE) is already an established process in court, in relation to both financial applications (where there will be a Financial Dispute Resolution hearing) and children disputes (where there will be a Dispute Resolution Hearing).
The Financial Dispute Resolution hearing (or FDR) is an important type of court hearing. The basis of the FDR is that the Judge expresses a view about the likely outcome of the dispute in order to assist the parties towards settlement, but does not have the power to make an order if they cannot agree.
Courts are under extreme pressure and we are experiencing considerable delays to obtain a court hearing. The Judges are also being given less time to be able to deal with and prepare for these hearings.
The judge will give the parties guidance as to his or her view of the likely outcome in the case in order to encourage and facilitate settlement of some or all of the outstanding issues, with the aim of saving costs, and reducing delay and stress for the parties. FDR hearings are more informal than normal court hearings. Unfortunately, from the time of the first hearing in court, it can take many months before the parties are given a date for their settlement hearing (FDR). This drives up costs and only serves to extend tension and stress for the parties. FDRs have a high success rate – many cases settle at the hearing or shortly afterwards on the basis of the indication the court has given. However, court FDR’s have their limitations
- Because court lists are congested, there is usually a considerable delay before the FDR takes place.
- As with other court hearings, the parties have no power to choose who the Judge will be. Experience shows that, through no fault of their own, the Judges assigned to deal with FDRs have not always had the chance to read the papers and prepare fully for the hearing.
- The FDR can only take place at a specified time in the progress of a case.
Family disputes are often about more than one area: for instance, children and money. An FDR will normally only be able to deal with one area. Becket Chambers can offer private early neutral evaluation, sometimes known as a private FDR. As in a court FDR, the evaluator encourages the parties towards settlement and (unlike mediation) expresses a clear view on the likely outcome if the dispute were to go to court. However, there is no power to impose a settlement.
The additional benefits of having a barrister conduct a private financial dispute resolution are:
- They can happen before court proceedings are started or at any stage during the court process.
- Hearings can be arranged very quickly.
- Hearings can be held remotely (by phone or video conference)
- The parties have the power to choose someone in whom they and their lawyers have confidence.
- They will have had the opportunity to read the papers and prepare for the occasion.
- The FDR can deal with all or any aspects of the dispute which the parties wish.
- The parties will hear from an independent evaluator and will know what they stand to lose or gain.
- Successful FDR settlement rate at court is good and even better at a private FDR.
- The FDR can take place either at Becket Chambers or wherever else the parties wish. Our evaluators are happy to travel.
- A dedicated evaluator who could be available for the entire day
Our ENE service at Becket Chambers is tailored to the needs of the individual clients. It is a bespoke service that can be designed to meet the requirements of the individual case, with the ability for guidance to be provided for both simple issues as well as more complex ones. The parties can book as long or as short an appointment as they wish. It can happen at any point in a dispute – even before court proceedings are issued or at the same time as on-going court proceedings.
Please visit our website to view the profiles of our barristers – https://becket-chambers.co.uk/your-barristers/
The FDR can take place either at Becket Chambers or wherever else the parties wish. Please contact the Senior Clerk Paul Eaton or the First Junior Clerk Arron Smith for further information on 01227 786331.